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My understanding is that the Buddha took many teachings and concepts already existing in his society and renewed them when needed, giving them a meaning in accord with his understanding. Is it correct? I guess he introduced new teachings and concepts as well.

My question is: which one were already existing and which one are introduced by the Buddha?

  • 4 noble truths
  • 8 fold noble path
  • 5 khandha
  • 6 sense bases, 6 sense objects and 6 consciousnesses
  • 4 brahmavihārā
  • 4 right efforts
  • 4 jhāna
  • 5 precepts
  • 3 jewels
  • 4 gratitudes (parents, teachers, friends, all beings)
  • 4 kinds of nutriments
  • 7 factors of awakening
  • 6 paramitas
  • ānāpānassati
  • satipaṭṭhāna
  • nibbāna
  • saṃsāra
  • interdependent co-arising
  • anattā, dukkhā and anicca
  • sila, samadhi and prajna
  • rebirth and previous lives

Please add to this list if something important is missing.

In gratitude

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The following were introduced by the Buddha, as explicitly stated in the suttas mentioned:

  • 4 noble truths (SN 56.11, which says: "things unheard before")
  • 8 fold noble path (SN 56.11, which says: "things unheard before")
  • anicca, dukkhā & anattā (AN 3.136, which says "a Buddha discovers & reveals it")
  • interdependent co-arising (SN 12.10; SN 22.65; SN 12.20, which say: "things unheard before" & "a Buddha discovers & reveals it")
  • 4 jhāna (MN 36, which refers to jhana under a rose-apple tree)
  • 3 jewels
  • 4 kinds of nutriments
  • 7 factors of awakening
  • ānāpānassati
  • satipaṭṭhāna
  • nibbāna
  • sila, samadhi and panna

Note: the four nutriments are about how the 'concept' or 'self-view' of 'a being' or 'beings' is maintained together with craving. Therefore, the Buddha must have introduced this teaching because only the non-becoming of not-self can have realisation of the opposite, which is 'becoming' via 'craving for nutriment'.

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    Are you sure about the concept of nibbāna? I'm convinced it was repurposed from before.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Oct 13, 2023 at 9:54
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    Even in DN 1, there are records of other religions using the term Nibbana - "“Herein, bhikkhus, a certain recluse or a brahmin asserts the following doctrine or view: ‘When this self, good sir, furnished and supplied with the five strands of sense pleasures, revels in them—at this point the self attains supreme Nibbāna here and now.’ In this way some proclaim supreme Nibbāna here and now for an existent being."
    – ruben2020
    Oct 13, 2023 at 10:36
  • OMG. Ruben. Please. My efforts are in vain. Oct 13, 2023 at 12:04
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There were many Buddhas before Gautam Buddha and there will be a Buddha in future. Understanding of Knowledge is impermanent but knowledge expressed by Buddhas are permanent.

During Buddhas period there were other wise men like Jains , Brahmins who were also had the same motive of eradicating suffering. So the concept of suffering was present during that period but when Gautama began his journey ,he was not exposed to the suffering, his father made sure that he never discovered suffering. But he saw suffering when he went into the city. He saw an old man , a diseased man and a dead man. Compassion arose in his heart and he left his palace in search for eradication of suffering. He was not taught what is suffering. He learned on his own. Brahmins and Jains reached to various levels of jhana through meditation but no one came close to the concept called Anatta or not-self. It is not that such a discovery was made first time by Gautam Buddha but from his point of view he was the first to elucidate the truth of suffering , origin of suffering, cessation of suffering and the path leading to the cessation of suffering.

Truths are rediscovered in various epochs. But the Truths are always present whether Buddha arises or not.

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